If you feel like modern adulthood is all about juggling the important facets of your life, you aren’t alone.
It’s why ‘balance’ is currently the need and the talk of the hour.
We’re all looking for it: a balance between work and our personal lives, between our friends and our relationships, between our health and enjoyment… the list goes on.
A pivotal step in being able to manage all the things that are significant to us is being physically and mentally healthy – another goal that might be particularly challenging in today’s world – but there are things you can do to get there.
Yoga supports balance on both a literal and metaphorical level, often at the same time. If you’ve ever done yoga, you’ll probably have heard a lot of talk about maintaining balance while performing asanas. There is much to be learned from this process. It’s rare to master a one-legged pose on your first try – it usually requires practice, time and patience.
This is because finding physical balance requires both complete alertness and complete relaxation. This may seem like a contradiction but it’s actually (you know where we’re going with this) balance! If you lose focus, you fall over. You can’t stand on one foot and think about your grocery list. It demands complete mental immersion in the process. This is a form of meditation. Once you get there, you’ll inevitably see the calm that is necessary to maintain the pose. Panic and start thinking “am I about to fall over?” and chances are, you will. You might also notice that the effort it takes to stay in position is one that must incessantly refresh and sustain itself.
Yoga and the Endocannabinoid System
The most surprising thing about yoga, however, is not the mental and physical balance it helps you achieve on the mat. It’s the effect it has long after you’ve gotten off. The benefits of yoga are well accepted within the scientific community. It is known to promote better sleep, improve blood circulation, provide short term pain relief and cause improvements in mood.
The mechanism by which yoga impacts mood may lie in its effect on the endocannabinoid system or ECS. If you haven’t heard of it, it isn’t because it’s bogus – this system has been recognized as an important modulatory system in the function of brain, endocrine and immune tissues. It can also play a role in cardiovascular health, mental health, memory, appetite and more. It regulates these by maintaining homeostasis. In simple terms, balance.
Anandamide - The Bliss Molecule
How does this relate to yoga? Here’s how it works:
- In order for the ECS to achieve homeostasis, the body produces substances called endocannabinoids that act on areas of the brain to produce different effects.
- One of these substances is called anandamide or ‘the bliss molecule’ and has earned its name from the Sanskrit ‘Ananda’ meaning ‘joy, bliss or happiness’.
- The runner’s high and post-yoga Zen that is commonly attributed to endorphins, has recently been theorized to be a result of anandamide produced during those activities.
- Anandamide also plays a role in pain, appetite, fertility, memory, motivation, movement control, and the formation of new nerve cells.
- Essentially, the more yoga you practice, the more anandamide your body will produce, and the more balanced your organ systems will be.
However, like most neurotransmitters, anandamide breaks down fairly quickly in the body, which is why that post-yoga bliss won’t last forever – not on its own, at least. And that brings us to CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is one of many substances called cannabinoids that are found in the hemp plant. It’s non-psychoactive (so it won’t get you high), and is being researched for its effectiveness in relieving pain, nausea, anxiety, sleep and more. Like yoga, CBD oil does this by impacting the endocannabinoid system. Here’s how:
- As mentioned, for the ECS to work efficiently it requires a steady supply of its endocannabinoids.
- The body does produce its own, but like with several vitamins and minerals, they can sometimes get depleted and leave the ECS out of balance, in turn leaving most of the body’s systems out of balance.
- CBD restores balance to this system. Researchers believe this happens for one of two reasons: it either mimics the endocannabinoid and produces the same reaction in the brain or it blocks the enzyme that breaks the endocannabinoid down, therefore keeping it in the body longer.
Getting Results with Yoga or CBD
Much like people warn when trying out yoga, balance will not present itself in minutes of first trying CBD.
People whose ECSs are out of balance will likely feel the effects of CBD much sooner than someone who has a fairly healthy endocannabinoid tone.
Some people that consume high doses of CBD may feel its effects on the same day. This usually happens if the person is more in need of its support. But others may feel it only after about a week of consistent use - just like yoga. Maybe all you feel for a while is an easy sense of relaxation.
Over time, you’ll probably find that it’s strengthening your ability to handle stress. When you’re not overwhelmed, your ability to focus increases.
Remember how we said yoga gives you the perfect balance of calm and alertness? So does CBD!
If after a week or so, you still aren’t feeling any different, steadily increase your daily dose by 25-50% - the same way you’d increase the difficulty of your asanas as you progress with yoga.
In Conclusion: Yoga and CBD
If practicing yoga and consuming CBD could provide such benefits independently, it’s no wonder that people are loving the experience of combining them! In fact, CBD yoga is quickly gaining popularity in the US.
The reason they go so well together is because they essentially do the same thing: bring about balance to the ECS.
But as a bonus, CBD also makes it easier to practice yoga by making it easier to focus and relax. This creates a happy little wellness cycle. You might find that your yoga experience is a lot more rewarding with CBD, getting you a couple steps closer to finding the balance we all need.